Two men from the Democratic Republic of Congo were arrested outside of Seattle last week on charges that they shipped ivory and white rhinoceros horn to the United States and had plans to send more, federal prosecutors said.
There is an almost total ban on the African elephant ivory trade in the United States. It is also governed by international treaty.
Herdade Lokua, 23, and Jospin Mujangi, 31, both of Kinshasa, were arrested Wednesday outside Seattle. They are charged with 11 counts that include smuggling, money laundering, and Lacey Act violations for allegedly lying about shipments containing illegal wildlife, the Justice Department said Monday.
They allegedly had the elephant ivory and rhino horn cut into smaller pieces and painted black, and then mixed with a black wood to hide it.
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Lokua and Mujangi have pleaded not guilty, and they were ordered held, according to federal court records. Their attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.